Leaders Release Plan To Spend $113M Of Pandemic Relief Money

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island's legislature will soon act to spend some of the state's federal relief funds to help the economy recover.

Gov. Dan McKee, House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio outlined the plans on Friday in a press conference at the State House to spend about $113 million of Rhode Island’s more than $1.1 billion in American Rescue Plan funds.

The money will be spent on supporting children, families and the child care industry; assisting small businesses impacted by COVID-19; promoting affordable housing and helping the homeless; and helping the hard-hit tourism, hospitality and event industries.

McKee said it's a down payment on Rhode Island's economic recovery and all municipalities need help.

“This is the boost Rhode Islanders need,” he said.

The General Assembly has held numerous, lengthy hearings about how to spend the federal relief funds. The finance committees will vote next week. Shekarchi said they'll use the balance of the funding on long-term, sustainable investments that help generations of Rhode Island residents and legislators are prepared to act as soon as the session resumes in January.

The governor, speaker and senate president also pledged to add $6 million to address growing child care needs. Ruggerio said that's a top Senate priority because “we can't get people back to work if we don't have affordable childcare.”